Millions of people will come together this autumn to celebrate one of the most significant festivals in Indian culture - Diwali.
The auspicious Hindu festival, which is also known as the festival of lights, falls on October 19 and coincides with the Hindu New Year. It celebrates new beginnings as well as the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
To celebrate this colourful holiday, families often make special decorations, light candles, play games, eat Indian sweets and give gifts. For Bristol-based Indian restaurateur Romy Gill, who grew up in a small town in West Bengal, Burnpur, the celebratory festival is all about a "sense of togetherness and sharing food".
What does Diwali mean to you?
Romy says, "Diwali is the festival that will always play a big part in my life. No matter how rich or poor you are, people come together to celebrate. My mum and her friends used to make delicious sweets, they would spring clean the house and decorate with lights and candles. She also made sure we had new clothes to wear on the occasion and at the end of the night, to celebrate Diwali, everyone used to get together for fireworks."
What to eat over the festival
According to Romy, the type of food which is eaten during Diwali depends on the different traditions and cultures you were brought up in.
Romy tells us, "India is a big country so ways of making similar dishes can differ. I not only make lots of sweet dishes, but a lot of Indian street food snacks too. I make Saffron Jalebis (a delicious sweet Indian treat), Shankarpale (a diamond-shaped pastry-filled treat) and Kajoo barfi (a popular Indian dessert made with cashew nuts)."
It seems no celebration in Hindu culture would be complete without lots of homemade sweet treats. Romy tells us, "Desserts are the main highlight of the festival. I'm not sure why, but I think sweets are a fitting way to celebrate good over evil. I tend to make them in bulk as all Indian sweets take a long time to make."
"For savoury food we mostly cook vegetarian dishes. I will be making Samosas (try our pumpkin-filled samosas, below), Chaat (which is like a fried dough) and Dahi Bhalla (savoury dumplings served with yoghurt)."
For more Diwali-inspired dishes, check out these five mouthwateringly-good recipes below.
Cardamom & pistachio nan khatai
When it comes to Diwali foods, sweets reign supreme. Try these Indian shortbreads, full of crunchy nuts and a subtly fragrant flavour.
Red onion bhajis
If you’re having people over then this Indian classic is delicious finger food. Get the red onions bhajis recipe here.
Very veggie biryani
Many Indians will eat vegetarian foods at this time of year. This very veggie biryani recipe filled with fruit, nuts and fragrant spices is a real winner.
This pumpkin samosas recipe makes a dozen large, vegetarian samosas and is a great way to combine seasonal flavours with an Indian favourite.
Creamy quinoa ‘rice’ pudding
Traditional Indian rice pudding or ‘kheer’ is often made with coconut milk and pistachios, which we’ve added here, but this ‘rice’ pudding has a different texture thanks to the inclusion of gluten-free quinoa. Try this creamy quinoa 'rice' pudding here.